Wednesday was supposed to be a historic day for the European Space Agency (ESA) whose Schiaparelli EDM lander was set to make an astounding Mars landing. Despite having the ExoMars Trace Gas orbiter correctly positioned, the mission has been a partial success so far as signal from Schiaparelli yet remains silent. The engineers will work overnight to figure out why probe’s signal failed prior to landing.
Schiaparelli is part of ExoMars, a mission originally thought as an independent project of ESA. NASA joined the project subsequently but retired due to financial issues back in 2012. ESA continued the mission in partnership with Russian Aerospace Corporation Roscosmos.
Scientists at the European Agency headquarters are now impatiently waiting for the stunning moment when the spacecraft will stop its engines on Mars. If successful, Schiaparelli will have a technical mission that aims to test various techniques that will be needed over 4 years, when a broader mission called ExoMars 2020 will be deployed.
Before touching down on Mars, Schiaparelli EDM module will face tough challenges as it has to travel 121 kilometers through planet’s atmosphere and slow down from a dazzling speed of 21,000 km/h to 0 km/h within only 6 minutes. During its descent, the probe will make use of a parachute that aims at reducing its speed to about 250 km/h, writes Foxcrawl.com.
UPDATE: ESA Mars landing: ESA’s orbiter revealed success, but there is no news coming from Schiaparelli spacecraft – live. The ExoMars mission was hoping to land the module at 3:48 pm GMT, but no signal from probe has come in so far.
Photo credits: By Rlevente [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Video: ExoMars Mission: Schiaparelli lander Martian descent in real time